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The chemical Avobenzone, which is found in many sunscreen lotions and tanning oils, can cause stubborn orange-ish or yellow rust stains on clothing when it comes in contact with iron in our water supply. The best tip is to avoid these stains as things can get nasty. Use a sunscreen or a tanning oil that doesn’t contain Avobenzone to avoid stains altogether, but even an easily removable stain can be prevented by allowing the sunscreen to dry completely before dressing and by avoiding your shirt sleeves, the hem of your shorts and the neckline of your shirt when reapplying. If the damage is already done, we have put together some easy tips to help you get out of the jam.
Alternative 1 - Classic
If iron in your water supply (hard water) is not an issue, pretreat the stained area with a stain remover. But when it comes to rust stains, it is very important not to use chlorine nor oxygenated bleaches, because they can make the stains worse. Work the stain remover into the stain with your fingers or an old toothbrush and let it sit on the stain for around 15 minutes.
Wash the garment as usual according to the care label.
Alternative 2 - McGyver
If you are out of stain remover, or if the garment is made out of sensitive material like merino wool or cashmere, you can simply use baking soda and dishwashing liquid. First, make sure your garment is dry and then sprinkle the stain with some baking soda to absorb any excess lotion or oil. Let the powder sit for about 30 minutes.
Next, gently brush off the powder and rub the stain with dishwashing liquid. Let the new mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
If the garment is washable, mix one teaspoon of washing detergent into a bowl of tepid water (30°C) and let the garment soak for an hour.
Rinse the garment in more tepid water and wash as usual according to the care label. It the garment is not washable or made of sensitive materials such as merino wool or cashmere, use a damp towel to get rid of the mixture and then let the garment dry flat.
Alternative 3: Home Remedies
A home remedy for sunscreen stains contains lemon juice and salt. So spare the lemon from your drink, and start off by rinsing the stained area with cool water and then squeeze lemon juice on the stain. Next, pour a pile of salt on the lemon juice. Let it sit over night, gently brush away the salt and then wash the garment as usual according to the care label instructions. Just be aware that lemon juice can cause color loss on darker garments, so test the remedy on an inconspicuous area to be sure that it is safe to use.